Final

Saints 26

(1-0, 1-0 away)

Rams 24

(0-1, 0-1 home)

Coverage: NFL

8:00 PM ET, August 8, 2014

Edward Jones Dome, Saint Louis, MO 

1 2 3 4 T
NO 3 13 10 026
STL 7 10 0 724

Top Performers

Passing: R. Griffin (NO) - 179 YDS, 1 TD

Rushing: M. Ingram (NO) - 8 CAR, 83 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: A. Bayer (STL) - 5 REC, 71 YDS

Michael Sam has tackle, QB hit in debut as Rams fall to Saints

Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- Michael Sam got an extended look at defensive end in the St. Louis Rams' preseason opener.

Coach Jeff Fisher said that's where the first openly gay player drafted in the NFL will have his best shot at making the team.

"Michael is a defensive end, OK? He plays defensive end with his hand down," Fisher said after a 26-24 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Friday night.

"There's a lot of talk with Mike being a 'tweener,' maybe a standup pass-rusher. It's rare to find a defensive end playing special teams in the NFL."

Sam said his introduction to the NFL was "awesome," recalling thinking during the national anthem, "Wow, this is the big stage."

But not too big.

Sam, who was credited with one tackle and one quarterback hit, emerged with confidence.

"You know, I can play in this league," Sam said. "I can play in this league."

Sam was a seventh-round draft pick and he's attempting to launch his pro career a two-hour drive from where he starred on a 12-win Missouri team that played in the SEC title game last season.

Sam shed weight to 257 pounds coming into training camp so he'd be a viable special-teams option on a team that already has a strong pass rush.

Mark Ingram had eight carries for 83 yards and a 22-yard touchdown in the first half.

"We wanted to come out here and start fast," Ingram said. "The line was just physical up front, got a lot of movement off the ball and created a lot of seams and holes for us to run through."

Luke McCown started in place of Brees, limited by a left oblique injury for a week. First-round pick Brandin Cooks caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from third-stringer Ryan Griffin in the third quarter and had five receptions for 55 yards.

Sam

Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

"I was pulling for Mike, I really was. ... Mike came in here and did everything we asked him to do," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said of Michael Sam.

"I know what I'm coming into," Cooks said. "I'm coming in with a great group of receivers. I've got to come in and find my spot."

Coach Sean Payton was noncommittal about Brees' chances of playing next Friday at home against the Titans.

"We'll be smart with his recovery. He certainly is smart enough, too," Payton said. "Look, it is an area that is affected every time that you throw, so it's important that it is 100 percent."

Sam Bradford was held out as a precaution coming off knee surgery. Shaun Hill got the start and threw two touchdown passes in the first half.

Greg Zuerlein was barely wide left on a 59-yard field goal attempt on the final play after missing a 46-yard attempt with just under six minutes remaining.

The Rams started both of their first-round picks, offensive lineman Greg Robinson and defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Robinson, the second overall pick of the draft, started at left guard and also played left tackle.

Attendance was announced at 54,850, about 12,000 shy of capacity at the Edward Jones Dome.

The stadium appeared to be at less than half capacity not long after the opening kickoff and dwindled to perhaps one-third by the finish for the matchup between the Rams, who've had consecutive seven-win seasons under Fisher, and the 11-win Saints.

Chris Long, the longtime starter at left end for St. Louis, intercepted McCown on the opening series to set up Cory Harkey's 16-yard touchdown catch.

Sam began playing on the next series and made two nice plays in the second quarter, pressuring Griffin into an incompletion and getting a tackle.

"He's unpolished like a lot of rookies," Long said of Sam. "But he pleasantly surprised you when he went out in a game situation and played pretty well."

Saints kicker Shayne Graham botched an extra-point kick from the longer distance being used the first two weeks of the preseason, hooking it off the left crossbar in the second quarter.

Game notes


Rams TE Mason Brodine fractured his left ankle and is out for the season. ... Saints S Jairus Byrd, recovering from back surgery, did not play. Byrd attended high school in suburban Clayton when his father, Gill Byrd, was an assistant coach with the Rams. ... Saints RB Pierre Thomas did not play because of an undisclosed injury. ... Both teams hit triple digits in penalties, the Saints whistled 10 times for 104 yards and the Rams whistled 14 times for 118 yards.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
NO
STL
1st Downs2222
Passing 1st downs
1311
Rushing 1st downs
66
1st downs from penalties
35
3rd down efficiency
5-127-17
4th down efficiency
0-01-2
Total Plays6470
Total Yards375388
Yards per play5.95.5
Total Drives1112
Passing252238
Comp-Att
27-4021-34
Yards per pass
6.36.3
Interceptions thrown
20
Sacks-Yards Lost
0-04-33
Rushing123150
Rushing Attempts
2432
Yards per rush
5.14.7
Red Zone (Made-Att)1-32-3
Penalties10-10414-118
Turnovers20
Fumbles lost
00
Interceptions thrown
20
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00
Possession28:3631:24

Passing Leaders

NOC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Griffin16/231797.8100-0
McCown7/10494.9010-0
STLC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Davis10/161348.4101-5
Hill5/78412.0201-8

Rushing Leaders

NOCARYDSAVGTDLG
Ingram88310.4122
Robinson5234.6114
STLCARYDSAVGTDLG
Mason15513.4020
Reynolds6467.7038

Receiving Leaders

NORECYDSAVGTDLG
Hill26733.5046
Cooks55511.0125
STLRECYDSAVGTDLG
Bayer57114.2042
Blake34113.7029

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERNOSTL
stlTD8:10Cory Harkey 16 Yd pass from Shaun Hill (Greg Zuerlein Kick)
Drive info: 6 plays, 47 yds, 3:36
07
noFG3:28Shayne Graham 37 Yd Field Goal
Drive info: 11 plays, 61 yds, 4:42
37
SECOND QUARTERNOSTL
noTD8:32Khiry Robinson 1 Yd Run (kick failed)
Drive info: 9 plays, 61 yds, 4:30
97
stlTD5:59Stedman Bailey 24 Yd pass from Shaun Hill (Greg Zuerlein Kick)
Drive info: 5 plays, 71 yds, 2:33
914
noTD2:37Mark Ingram 22 Yd Run (Shayne Graham Kick)
Drive info: 9 plays, 80 yds, 3:22
1614
stlFG0:00Greg Zuerlein 45 Yd Field Goal
Drive info: 13 plays, 65 yds, 2:37
1617
THIRD QUARTERNOSTL
noFG10:31Derek Dimke 37 Yd Field Goal
Drive info: 6 plays, 31 yds, 2:17
1917
noTD3:43Brandin Cooks 25 Yd pass from Ryan Griffin (Derek Dimke Kick)
Drive info: 8 plays, 80 yds, 3:18
2617
FOURTH QUARTERNOSTL
stlTD11:07Austin Franklin 15 Yd pass from Austin Davis (Greg Zuerlein Kick)
Drive info: 5 plays, 64 yds, 1:45
2624